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No Osteoporosis Drug Proven Best

Over a Dozen Drugs Studied; None Emerges as Best Osteoporosis Treatment
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Dec. 17, 2007 -- There is no proof that the most widely prescribed osteoporosis drugs work better than other drug treatments for the prevention of bone fractures.

That is the finding from a new report funded by the U.S. government's Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

Based on an analysis of studies examining the risks and benefits of six bisphosphonates and other osteoporosis drugs, researchers concluded that while many medications reduced the risk of bone fractures in people with osteoporosis, no single drug or drug class was clearly superior.

They noted that there was not enough data to determine if the bisphosphonates were better for preventing fractures than hormone-based treatments.

The popular osteoporosis drugs Fosamax and Boniva are bisphosphonates, which work by slowing the natural process that breaks down bone tissue.

The researchers included in their analysis studies involving Fosamax, Boniva, four other bisphosphonates (Didronel, Aredia, Actonel, and Reclast), the man-made hormone calcitonin, the selective estrogen receptor modulators Evista and tamoxifen, parathyroid hormone, estrogen, testosterone, calcium, and vitamin D.

"The fact is, there have been very few head-to-head trials done to compare any of these agents," study author Catherine MacLean, MD, PhD, of the RAND Corp., tells WebMD. "It is expensive to do these trials. On the other hand, these are also expensive agents, and as consumers we have the right to know which ones work best."

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